I was out discovering Oklahoma City recently, marveling at the richness and diversity of its residential architecture and network of undiscovered parks. I had been enjoying the many pleasures of Lincoln Terrace and historic areas like Crown Heights when I crossed Western Avenue heading west on 41st street. At once there was a visible difference in the landscape. Houses constructed of wood in the 1920′s vernacular stood side by side with brick and stucco two story’s with nice set backs and mature trees lining the streets. Here however, the houses here lacked the polish and care that has clearly been lavished on their neighbors across Western. Yards were not professionally landscaped and I even witnessed the occupants themselves grooming lawns. This is in contrast to the landscape services which were so obvious just to the east.
This is clearly an area ( Military Park, Putnam Heights – NH) that could be spoken of as “full of potential”. The price of houses in these blocks drop by $100,000 per unit from the dwellings just a few feet away on the east side of Western. I have to ask “why”? Both have the same wonderful mix of restaurants and antique stores around the corner from each direction. The distance to brand name shopping ( Penn Square, Classen Curve, Belle Isle) is the same. The number of steps to downtown attractions (Chesapeake Arena, the Arts district, the Asian District, Bricktown, the Capitol Complex and financial center are the identical.) Both areas are equidistant from major highways.
It therefore seems to me that the neighborhood I discovered would be a wonderful location for downsizers, urban professionals, foodies and anyone else who would like to have the convenience of living in the closest proximity to an urban core. The area offers the sybaritic attraction of a leafy, green environment and the privilege of living in an architecturally distinct and culturally diverse milieu, like Brookline in Boston or the Near North in Chicago. It suggests the chance to lower travel times and gasoline bills, access ethnic foods and gourmet grocery stores, art galleries/museums and the opportunity to spend more time with your fee up, a drink in hand and the company of friends and family. These are lifestyle elements that seem to be very desirable according to everthing I read.
So, why hasn’t this area developed along the same lines as Crown Heights? Will another twenty years make the difference?